Tuesday Jan 17, 2012

Personalization: A Key Tenet of User Engagement

Today's guest post is from Alakh Verma, Director or Platform Technology Solutions at Oracle.


In today’s constantly changing and competitive business environment, consumers are seeking more personalized care and services for any engagement enter into prior to committing to any transaction. Relationships begin with humble greetings and a smile, progresses to a natural conversation and eventually evolves to understanding the needs and behavior in the process.

User engagement involves a mixture of quantitative and qualitative analysis. Quantitative analysis offers useful patterns and is generally more scalable and easier to conduct. User engagement also involves contextual study and ethnography. These provide information about the people, what their routines are in daily life and what their needs are for which they have visited the electronic website, physical store or workplace.

A few weeks back, I walked into a Wells Fargo branch in San Jose, to conduct a normal banking chores of depositing  a check. I was overwhelmed by warm greetings from the store manager, Robert Borcherding, and he offered to fill out the pay-in-slip while I was waiting in the queue for the teller. Realizing it might take longer, he came by again to offer assistance and accept my check for the deposit by personal banker. He kept talking and displaying his humility to offer the best care he could while I stayed in the branch.

Last week, when I walked in his branch again for some other banking transaction, I was pleasantly surprised to receive his personal greetings where he greeted me by name with smiles and again offered to assist with humility. I could see his urgency to satisfy me the fullest. This time, I was in his branch to meet his banking manager, Rosa S. Aguirre, regarding a refinance. When he saw that she was still busy with another customer, he offered to help speed up the process by making all the necessary photo copies of my documents that she might need. While he was doing this act of an extended personalized service, he was winning my trust and my heart in the process. By then, Rosa was free and ready to meet with me with all my documents in hand. I would categorize this act as a clear display of personalization that would go a long way in building trust and gaining, growing and retaining business for his store and for Wells Fargo in general. On the other hand, I have receive numerous aggressive and disturbing call center calls from a competitor bank for their services and I refuse to take those calls. I am sure many of you have encountered similar situations in your lives and we can all appreciate the significance of personalization and personalized care in business settings.

Customer services have been widely used and misused and now businesses need to re-evaluate the paradigm shift of customers’ needs and expectations. With recent technology and tools, we can easily build and deploy virtual web stores to deliver consumers near real-time, personalized user experiences.

Personalization implies that the content and experience are changed for each user based on implicit data, such as items previously purchased or pages recently viewed. On an intranet or B2E enterprise Web portal, personalization is often based on user attributes such as department, functional area or role.

There are three categories of personalization: a) profile / group based ; b) behavior based; and c) collaboration based. Web personalization models include rules-based filtering, based on "if this, then that" rules processing, and collaborative filtering, which serves relevant material to customers by combining their own personal preferences with the preferences of like-minded others. Collaborative filtering works well for books, music, video, etc.

There are three broad methods of personalization: a) implicit; b) explicit; and c) hybrid. With implicit personalization, the personalization is performed by the web page based on the different categories mentioned above. With explicit personalization, the web page is changed by the user using the features provided by the system. Hybrid personalization combines both two approaches to leverage the best of both worlds.

Personalization is also being considered for use in less overtly commercial applications to improve the user experience online. Facebook introduced Instant Personalization recently.  This new technology is different from Social Plug-ins, which many B2B and B2C sites are already using.  Social plug-ins include things like Facebook live streams and “Like Buttons” and are intended to drive user engagement and make a website more ‘social’.  With Instant Personalization, Facebook shares data with a handful of non-Facebook websites. 

Have you taken a look at your web site recently and thought about if you’re delivering a personalized experience to your users? Oracle WebCenter personalizes the online buying experience with a comprehensive, highly scalable user engagement platform and applications. Built on a foundation of proven capabilities, including personalization, business user control, cross-channel support, and a flexible platform, WebCenter boosts cross-channel business growth by helping customers quickly find desired products, learn about new offerings, comparison shop, register for gifts, preorder products, redeem coupons, and easily complete their purchases. For more information, visit oracle.com/webcenter.

Wednesday Nov 02, 2011

It's About the User Experience!

We talk a lot about delivering a superior user experience because the effectiveness of your employees is directly impacted by usability of the user interfaces they engage with. And your company's ability to attract, retain and convert prospects into paying customers is directly impacted at their experience with your brand - in store, on the web, on mobile devices, and through feedback and chatter across the social media channels. But, we're not the only ones that see the importance of providing customers, partners and employees an engaging experience. 

If you were at Oracle OpenWorld last month, you saw mentions of various technologies that influence users all over the show. But in case you missed it, here are some highlights worth checking out.

  • During the Middleware General Session, Accenture presented their Technology Vision 2011 which highlighted that "User experience is what matters" and Hasan Rizvi interviewed the Land O'Lakes CIO about their implementation of Oracle WebCenter. Watch the presentation here:

  • Larry Ellison announced the Oracle Public Cloud and demonstrated the Oracle Social Network, which is part of Oracle WebCenter. What how this secure private network with a broad range of social tools helps streamline conversations by capturing information from people, enterprise applications and business processes to facilitate collaboration between individual users and teams of people.

Curious what else you missed at Oracle OpenWorld this year? Watch the best of Oracle OpenWorld 2011 on the Oracle Media Network. 

Monday Oct 10, 2011

Oracle OpenWorld and WebCenter Momentum

Reflecting on Oracle OpenWorld last week, we are even more excited about the direction and momentum of Oracle WebCenter. It was a great chance to share more with customers about how Oracle WebCenter positioning and new functionality which has folks even more enthusiastic.

We also got the opportunity to see some of our customers at the CAB and hear about their successes and future plans with our products. At lunch I got to speak with the College of American Pathology, Eaton, Rolls Royce, Chick-Fil-A, J.M. Smucker Company, and Jacobs Engineering. CAP has done a great accounts payable integration, and is starting to expand their implementation to cover employee onboarding. Chick-Fil-A, with their partner Team Informatics, has been working to incorporate a highly complex security and authentication scheme across all sites and related content. This is to ensure both employees and related departments, as well as franchisees, are able to access and update content while limiting access and rights to restricted information. It’s a very creative security solution that is entirely role-based, simplifying the security model and eliminating the need to define and manage accounts.

Thank you to the customers who joined us in presentations and provided video testimonials. McAfee provided some great insights in our panel on implementing a social business. And Chick-Fil-A and University of Texas A&M provided very different perspectives on implementing content management. Medtronic, Chicago Public Schools, McAfee, Agilent, and BDO were all able to record some great videos – we’ll see those rolling out on the Oracle website in the next few weeks. You can see an on-the-fly video we did with Agilent here.

Everyone was very engaged with Oracle WebCenter and the User Engagement Platform. We also had a great announcement of The Oracle Social Network by Larry Ellison. Larry enjoys the product so much he did the demonstration himself, showing all the ways people can connect and collaborate using this new and innovative solution.


Four Oracle WebCenter customers won Innovation Awards

Agilent is delivering significant volume of new customers that can be leveraged for proactive customer engagement, by providing a clear and compelling value proposition that customers will exchange information for. With Oracle WebCenter, more functionality can be added to the site using portlet design, providing a shorter development lifecycle of 3-4 months vs. the traditional 8-10 month lifecycle. Their site has been performing well while receiving more than 2 million hits in the first 24 hours.

Medtronic, with their partner Fishbowl Solutions, is delivering product information to their field sales team via web and mobile devices. Their predominant platform for sharing this information with their customers in office visits has become the iPad. Not only is their content more up-to-date, but it is more compelling, incorporating video as well as high resolution graphics. Medtronic has become the largest corporate implementation of the iPad, with over 10,000 units in use.


The Medtronic iPad application, created by Fishbowl Solutions, provides content from Oracle WebCenter.

Openbaar Ministerie is the Public Prosecution Office for The Netherlands. With their partner Deloitte Consulting and WebCenter partner Onior they have streamlined the process in order to bring cases digitally to the Judiciary Courts. Oracle WebCenter is the core solution for the storage providing a 360˚overview of all case related files, and resulting in a better end-user experience, better performance, more stability and enhanced storage capabilities. Openbaar Ministerie has replaced all content related legacy systems and migrated all functionality successfully to the Oracle WebCenter. This year there will be a migration of the current infrastructure to Atos Origin, including using a dedicated Exadata machine for the storage of metadata of the filed Case content.

Schneider National Schneider National won Honorable Mention for this WebCenter project, which is part of a much larger program that transforms Schneider’s business processes and end to end technology platform, providing consistency and simplicity of architecture, reduction in long term costs, and improved usability of the solutions for both internal and external users. Schenider provides two separate WebCenter Portal solutions, one for Drivers and another shared by both Customers and Service providers. The drivers portal provides content updates and driver feedback through forms and polls. Business leaders are able to make changes and updates to the content on a daily basis without IT involvement.

We will provide more in-depth customer profiles on the Innovation Awards winners in the next few weeks. Overall, from the announcement to the customer conversations to the sessions, we enjoyed the incredible momentum we are feeling around Oracle WebCenter.

Friday Sep 16, 2011

Social Collaboration Use Cases

As we wrap up this week on social business, we're happy to have John Brunswick provide his thoughts on social business use cases.


Why would someone ever want internet access from their telephone?  While the concept of essentially ubiquitous mobile internet access seemed foreign only a few years ago, it illustrates an industry shift that today can been seen around the intersection of social activity with business collaboration.

What specifically makes this any different than prior collaborative activities that we have undertaken?  Previous collaborative processes centered around specific entities / projects, while social collaboration has shifted that center to focus on the participants.  Think about some early discussion forum technologies versus Facebook.  They both serve as communication mediums, but one views interactions as post (entity) centric, while the other views interactions directly in the context of a user.  They both afford people the ability to exchange ideas around given topics, but offer a different perspective on how a user interacts with the information.

At first glance Social Collaboration may seem like a thin layer above traditional collaboration tools that is constrained only to inter-organization activities.  LinkedIn, Reddit, Facebook and other platforms provide straightforward examples geared toward the commercial internet space.  How and where can this apply to the enterprise?

Enterprise 2.0 technology has always been focused around reducing support and communication costs through customer self-service, expertise location and project collaboration.  Social Collaboration broadens the reach and increases the context of these interactions to provide capabilities to drive and maintain affinity for brands, extend a workforce, automate knowledge discovery and provide capabilities for enhanced customer and prospect relationship management (CXM).

Social Collaboration use cases are illustrated in the form of crowd-sourcing platforms, automated knowledge discovery within organizations and consumer focused offerings like Nike Plus.  Let's take a look at how social collaboration can provide an on-demand group of domain experts, provide efficient ad-hoc decision support cockpits, retain top talent and capture tacit knowledge with opt-in domain specific communities and perhaps most interestingly - drive brand affinity.

Engaging On Demand Experts
A few months ago I authored a post for AIIM, "Does the Social Web Benefit Any Organization?  Absolutely - If they are Smart" that explored if it was possible for any organization to gain real value from the Social Web.  I proposed that Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing excel in helping businesses, regardless of size or vertical.  Creative thinking powered by social collaboration can have a significant, sometimes even breakthrough impact, in some of what might be considered to be the least social business verticals.

Initially organizations may have been skeptical of these social approaches to providing services to business, but after a wave of initial hype (Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything & McKinsey's The Next Step in Open Innovation) a few concrete examples of success stand out.

Both 99 Designs and Innocentive act as virtual extensions of an organization, supplying communities of experts skilled at problem solving within specific domains.  99 Designs brings a wealth of creative talent from across the globe to help companies with graphic design work, while Innocentive helps solve some of the world's most complex technical issues - ranging from oil spill cleanup to purification of drinking water in the third world.  In both cases organizations use these platforms to become part of and interact with these communities, especially in the case of Innocentive where organizations like NASA and P&G both use the platform as an extension of their own capabilities.

If businesses have a core focus, they can benefit from refining the delivery of that asset to their respective customers / interactions with business partners delegating non-core functions to experts to allow them to maintain focus on their differentiating core processes (as evidenced by the rapid growth of Contract Research Organizations).  Socially collaborative approaches make the engagement and ongoing communication within these systems readily adoptable.

Ad-Hoc Decision Cockpit
Why did I not just call this section Ad-Hoc Decision Workspaces?  It wouldn't do justice to what enterprise social collaboration can provide to make the most effective use of resource's time and efforts.  Not only are people within the social collaboration framework "social", but our data should be as well.  Most decisioning is supported by information that exists somewhere within our outside of the enterprise that could be in the form of business intelligence reports, unstructured information in the form of office documents or external resources related to the decision in question.  Social collaboration enables interactions to be focused around an element or elements of information, connected with a role or grouping within the enterprise.

What if you organization was selecting new store locations?  It would be ideal to quickly join key decision makers into an online workspace, add key decision information into the workspace in the form of demographics related to your products, financials, contract documents and contact listings for the various potential locations.  From this it would be possible to keep the internal stakeholders abreast of ongoing activities through their activity streams, allowing them to comment on activities directly relevant to their role within the project.  Additionally, formal discussions on various aspects of the new store location could take place within the cockpit.  The cockpits lifecycle could ultimately culminate with a vote within the cockpit regarding the selected location, followed by an export of related materials to help execute the decision.

Opt-In Knowledge Sharing Communities
Anyone who has taken a basic organizational behavior class is probably familiar with Maslow’s infamous Hierarchy of Needs.  If not, his hierarchy's base starts with items needed for survival and ends at the peak with self-actualization.  As organization's drive to innovate and deliver better products and services, an outlet for creativity and passion is critical to success in a variety of objective ways.  Daniel H. Pink's book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us illustrates a series of excellent examples around this proposing that employees perform optimally when they find intrinsic meaning in their work.

The paradigm of LinkedIn's groups provides a foundation for a way in which to harness and leverage passion and domain expertise to benefit members of the business community.  Similarly, within our organizations social collaboration tools can provide people with an opportunity to contribute and gain recognition for their work that helps the greater good through problem solving and knowledge sharing.  As social collaboration technologies evolve in the enterprise, capabilities like "opt-in" communities lay the foundation for people to selectively choose to follow and participate in areas of interest.  Ultimately this model can lead to bonds being formed across geographies, new business possibilities and optimizations emerging from the communities and a reduction in the amount of time needed to solve a problems.

Drive Brand Affinity
This next use case falls well into the category of thought leadership.  It is not possible for every organization to follow the specific pattern outlined in this example, but it highlights the far-reaching possibilities that a connected socially collaborative system provides.

If you are a runner you may already be familiar with Nike Plus.  To call Nike Plus a "product" is shortsighted.  It is an experience comprised of a device, software, community and extended community - all enabled through social collaboration concepts.  The experience has ended up winning a very wide range of awards throughout the advertising and user interaction industry.

So - what does this have to do with social collaboration?  Nike has hit the mark for the "me context" + community creation that fosters increased business.

Nike Plus allows runners to coordinate their runs with music, obtain feedback throughout their run and view results within a customer extranet.  Within the extranet Nike offers feedback to runners, allows them to engage in challenges, offers training advice and as you may expect, allows for the purchase of merchandise and music.  Then things get very interesting...

Nike Plus has integration within Facebook and Twitter allowing a runner to update their status indicating they are embarking on a run.  The update is triggered when the run starts.  As the run progresses, the runner's social connections can "cheer" the runner on by liking or commenting on the status update.  Any likes or comments to the status update actually trigger the runner's audio device to play a sound that indicates connections are supporting them during the run.

 

So - not only has Nike created a very valuable extranet, but they went well beyond the traditional bounds of customer service.  By engaging a runner's connections within their social networking communities and allowing them to provide feedback to the runner directly in context of the activity - in context of connections that are meaningful to the runner, they have created an experience tied to the Nike brand that is extremely positive in every regard that the runner and their connections share.

It would be interesting to see what data Nike has around up-sell and cross-selling within this experience.  It would also be interesting to see how Nike goes about using the information to boost customer satisfaction with their experience and ultimately the Nike brand.

Could something like this be helpful to your brand?

Above and Beyond
The examples above are meant to be thought provoking.  Everyone's business has different key processes that may benefit innovative thinking that social collaboration can support and accelerate.  Based on the trends above it is likely that the future of collaborative interaction will continue to move toward a user focused context where the boundaries of business continue to expand to include new participants outside of an organization, including extensive bi-directional interaction with customers and prospects that takes place within their existing contexts.

Thursday Sep 15, 2011

Social Media Changes and Challenges for SEO

  As we continue to discuss social business trends and the impact it has, one area we haven't addressed is SEO. Today's guest post comes from Billy Cripe – Principal BloomThinker, BloomThink & Gary Sirek - Founder and Creative Director Squirrelworx.

The growth and acceptance of social media and enterprise 2.0 technology has shifted customer expectations for company interaction. Inside the walls of the business these shifts are bringing together two groups who have often remained separate.  SEO strategists traditionally focused on gaining company awareness are now coming together with Social Media experts to better understand the impact of social media on SEO.  Both realms stand to benefit.  SEO teams gain awareness amplification when the social teams are most effective.  And the social media teams enjoy boosted engagement and conversation participation when highly effective SEO teams bring new audiences into the social media engagement spaces. 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION
But this also has profound shifts for the ways both groups have traditionally operated.  Gone are the days when meta tag keywords and a smattering of comments on competitive blogs would boost search rankings. Social media is old-style communication newly applied to online spaces. It is conversation. The term Social SEO demonstrates the complementary nature of traditional SEO and social media. When you have a solid Social SEO strategy, you will see uplift in awareness, in conversation and in social engagement. The common thread is to get conversations moving about your company, your product, your service.  That is a powerful tool that yields results. A positive conversation can deliver many conversions.

4 QUESTIONS FOR DIAGNOSIS
To ensure the right conversations are taking place, businesses can use a set of key questions to determine their social SEO readiness and then apply proven principles for executing the best fit SEO strategy. Here are four questions you can use to check your social awareness pulse:

  1. Are You On Message?
    The question for your Marketing and Communications departments is how are they enabling everyone in the organization to be on-message? This is not a command and control task.   The pro-active delivery of business critical content to employees and partners is an important process.  Are your systems passive?  Do you enable employee and partner engagement on and about those topics?  Do your systems facilitate those ad hoc conversations?
  2. Are You Synchronized?
    The question for your intranet team is how are they ensuring that everyone across the organization is synchronized?  This means that sales, support, consulting and R&D/Manufacturing teams all know that new campaigns are kicking off.  Those campaigns, or special deals or new product launches are likely to drive demand and raise questions.  Everyone doesn’t need the details but they should be ready to answer questions, address concerns and point customers in the right direction.  You can bet the SEO team has thought long and hard about the keywords, buzz-spots and behavioral triggers that will likely trigger a response to that campaign.  Do others know how to spot those keywords when they come up in conversation?  The worst thing for a sales rep is to be caught unaware by a customer talking about that new 20% off deal they just got through a Klout promotion, email campaign or PPC coupon.  Kudos to the marketing and SEO teams for landing that prospect but it leaves the rep flat-footed.  That makes the company look bad.
  3. Are You Converting Your Existing Social Media Leads?
    One of the worst things you can do is pretend that social media matters for your business then ignore sales and marketing leads coming in from social sources.  So the question for your sales team is how are they incorporating leads from non-traditional sources into their workflow?  Do you even know when you get a lead from a social source?  Do you know what to do with it? How to qualify it?  How to route it to the most qualified rep to take it from there?  When the SEO team is effective one result is greater participation in the social engagement spaces the social media team manages.  But if you are not converting friends, fans and followers into customers and evangelists, you are on a very friendly path to fail-town.
  4. How do individual contributors answer social requests?
    Because everyone is potentially on the front lines of customer engagement, how are you equipping individual contributors to deal with the heightened awareness and interaction that successful SEO drives? How are your line workers, back office admins, and other staff connecting the casually interested with the appropriate experts inside your organization who can take that interest to the next level? 

Business has always been social. The difference is that now others can tell if that social environment is inviting or off-putting.  Technology is what now enables engagement in ways and at scales never before possible.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION
In the whitepaper, Social SEO & Cross Channel Marketing, Billy Cripe of BloomThink and Gary Sirek of Squirrelworx discuss the impact that social media is having on the discipline of SEO.  They discuss the SEO principles that drive awareness and attention that can benefit social media practice.  They outline the key concepts that practitioners and managers from each discipline need to know about the other and they propose a model for bringing these teams together to boost business.

Download the Social SEO & Cross Channel Marketing whitepaper.

Wednesday Sep 14, 2011

Social Business: Spreading Ideas

I stumbled across this video interview that Seth Godin did and thought it tied in nicely with what we've been discussing the past few weeks about social business. Have you read any material from Seth? He's a bestselling author and writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, leadership and much more. I really like Seth's philosophy of his work. Treat people with respect, customers have more power than ever, great ideas spread. He talks about how when you bring these things together, what you recognize is that leadership is the new marketing. Connecting people, leading people and creating ideas that people want to follow and share is now driving business. If you give people choices they will take them. When you look at it at a high level, these concepts really relate to social business -- connecting people, sharing information and ideas, and empowering users to be more productive and agile. Oh and I also like how he mentions my home state of WI! What are your reactions to the video? I'd love to hear what you think!

Monday Sep 12, 2011

Business Gets Social: Oracle at the Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit

Oracle is proud to be a Platinum sponsor of the Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit September 21 – 22, 2011 in London. The theme for this year's conference is "Business Gets Social". As we've been discussing on the blog for the past couple weeks, the real-time social Web is now a reality and the technologies driving these developments have unlimited potential. Organizations need to craft a strategy that positions your company for maximum results. The upcoming Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit will address these developments head-on, examining how these changes can drive business value. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with Oracle experts in a variety of sessions, including demonstrations during the showcase receptions.

  • Oracle Solution Provider Session - Thursday, September 22 at 10:15am.
  • Oracle Solution Showcase Reception - Stop by Oracle's Ice Bar for the opportunity to try the UK's own Chase Vodka - made in Herefordshire, England and voted world's best vodka in 2010!
  • Oracle Face to Face Meetings

Oracle Provider Session: Multi-Channel Web Experience Management Drives New Efficiencies for JD Williams
Industry leading organizations are already successfully creating capabilities to manage and present content in a consistent way across multiple channels. Hear how JD Williams has implemented a content-based re-platforming of systems to drive new experiences and business improvement with customers, partners and employees to promote consistent communication for Multi-Channel trading.

Speakers:

  • Gareth Samuel, Head of IT Architecture, JD Williams
  • Andy MacMillan, Vice President of Product Management, Oracle

Key Benefits of Attending
Through analyst sessions, problem-solving workshops and peer interaction, you'll gain the insight necessary to:

  • Better use collaborative tools inside your organization
  • Apply Portals, Content Management and Collaboration technologies in mobile environments
  • Harness the business value of social software
  • Clarify the impact of Portals, Content Management and Collaboration disciplines
  • Improve relations with employees and customers
  • Explore and understand where alternative delivery models (e.g. cloud) make the most sense

Will you be attending the Gartner PCC Summit? We'd love to meet with you to discuss your social business use cases!

Friday Sep 02, 2011

5 Ideas: Social Business

As we wrap up the week, it's pretty interesting to think how far "social business" has come. Technologies like Facebook and Twitter have transformed the online landscape for individual and group interactions, but it’s so much more than that. A few years ago, many were skeptical if this social networking phenomenon could be replicated in the business world. Today, it’s becoming critical for businesses to adopt collaborative technologies to innovate and stay ahead of the competition. Organizations are finding out by using social technologies and integrating them with their applications and business processes, they are adding a new dimension of interaction with customers, employees and partners. Connecting the internal efforts of employees and using collaborative technologies to extend the organization’s reach to others allows organizations to transform to social businesses.

As many of you are aware, in June, Oracle bought FatWire, a leading provider of web experience management solutions. The acquisition enables Oracle to provide a complete customer experience management solution that helps organizations drive customer retention and loyalty through improved online engagement — across web, mobile and social channels. In these five ideas, learn more about Oracle's recent acquisition and other social networking solutions that could transform your company.

“Together, Oracle and FatWire plan to deliver the most complete web experience management solution that will enable companies to fully optimize the customer experience with innovative social tools that enable user generated content in a managed environment. The addition of FatWire products will give Oracle the ability to provide a complete suite of software that empowers web marketers to engage visitors, converting more prospects to customers, and enhancing customer loyalty.” —Hasan Rizvi, Senior Vice President at Oracle

“Social media and networking tools, popularly known as Web 2.0 technologies, are rapidly transforming user expectations of enterprise systems. Many organizations are investing in these new tools to cultivate a modern user experience in an 'Enterprise 2.0' environment that unlocks the full potential of traditional IT systems and fosters collaboration in key business processes...A fundamental promise of Enterprise 2.0 is that ideas will be generated and shared by everyone across the organization, leading to increased innovation, agility, and competitive advantage.” —Kellsey Ruppel, senior product marketing manager at Oracle

“The goal is not to replicate something just like Facebook or YouTube inside the enterprise. It’s to think about how an application such as Facebook engages people to participate, share, connect and drive value. How do you then make that about doing those same things but focus them on a business process or activity?” —Andy MacMillan, Vice president, product management, Oracle WebCenter

“Oracle WebCenter provides Activity Streams—a channel that enables the capture and distribution of knowledge that was once only possible in an enterprise's infancy. Similar to Facebook's wall, Activity Streams collect and broadcast the activities of a specific individual. Activities are collected from business tools across the enterprise such as discussion forums, document repositories, and applications.” —Oracle WebCenter expert John Brunswick

“If you really want to have some influence on buying and purchasing decisions, whether it be for technology or anything else, go in armed with a list of certainties. For example, what do you know about your customers? Because they are changing fast. Then, look at the executives you’re going to be talking to, asking for that budget to expand what you’re doing, and the personal pain they are experiencing. Maybe it’s stockholders or maybe it’s Wall Street. Don’t go in asking for technology, go in understanding that pain. Show them how your tools can be applied to help — and how your plan is based on what you know will happen, versus knowing what might happen. You can sell if you know certainty.” —Daniel Burrus, author of Flash Foresight

Wednesday Aug 24, 2011

Oracle WebCenter Quarterly Customer Update

You’ve heard about the rebrand of Oracle WebCenter and the FatWire acquisition, but what does this mean for you as an Oracle customer and partner?

You won’t want to miss the next Oracle WebCenter Quarterly Customer Update. You'll hear from WebCenter product management as they cover the new WebCenter branding of our ECM products, the FatWire acquisition, and what’s being planned for Oracle OpenWorld.

Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. PT.

Got a question regarding any of the topics above? We encourage you to submit them in the
comments of this blog post and we'll be sure to address them on the webcast!

Register today!

Monday Aug 01, 2011

Oracle WebCenter: Delivering Intuitive Experiences for Enterprise Applications

We recently announced the new Oracle WebCenter, the user engagement platform for social business, connecting people and information. With this announcement the WebCenter brand covers portal, web experience management, content, and social and collaboration technologies into a single product suite that can be easily integrated with enterprise applications.  You can see the announcement webcast now on-demand. Last week we talked about the connect pillar of WebCenter, and this week will we focus on the portal pillar.

I had the opportunity to speak with Sachin Agarwal, Director of product management for Oracle WebCenter portal. Here is a recap of our conversation. 

Q: What are the portal capabilities within Oracle WebCenter?
A: Oracle WebCenter’s portal capabilities deliver intuitive user experiences for enterprise applications. This complete, open and integrated enterprise portal and composite applications solution enables the development and deployment of internal and external portals and websites, composite applications and mash-ups with integrated social and collaboration services and enterprise content management capabilities.  Oracle WebCenter delivers social and collaborative services to help optimize connections between people, information and applications, provides business activity streams so users can navigate, discover and access content in context, and offers dynamic personalization of applications, portals and sites so users have a customized experience. Oracle WebCenter builds on the best user experience capabilities from a significant portfolio of leading portal products and related technologies and provides the foundation for delivering the next-generation user experience for Oracle Fusion Middleware as well as Oracle Fusion Applications.


Figure 1: WebCenter portal provides a single point of access for both internal and external constituents to support collaborative, analytical and social processes critical to your business.

Q: How is Oracle WebCenter different from other portal offerings out there?
A: Oracle WebCenter allows users to easily create dynamic enterprise portals such as intranets and extranets. With Oracle WebCenter you can create out-of-the-box communities, allowing you to create individual, team and organizational work environments to connect people and content. Personalized dashboards let users monitor performance and minimize the page transitions by integrating information and keeping it in the context of the activity, action, or task that they are attempting to complete.

I think the biggest key here is that you are able to access content and applications from the portal in context of whatever business process or activity you are working on. This is a huge benefit for users, as they don’t have to jump from system to system and are able to work more efficiently.

Figure 2: Seamlessly manage and expose content, images and video from across your enterprise directly in the context of WebCenter portal.

Q: Can you build composite applications with Oracle WebCenter?
A: With Oracle WebCenter, you can easily assemble composite applications and mashups with Oracle’s common user experience architecture. This includes best practices and design patterns for developing next generation user experiences and is based on Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF), the common development framework for all Oracle Fusion Middleware user interfaces and Oracle Fusion Applications. In this way, you can easily extend existing applications and Oracle Fusion Applications with reusable, standards-based components.

Figure 3: Easily mashup information from various internal and external sources without writing code.

Q: Is WebCenter Spaces part of Oracle WebCenter portal or Oracle WebCenter connect?
A: WebCenter Spaces is now a feature offered as part of Oracle WebCenter portal, along with Framework and Services. Oracle WebCenter connect provides contextual social and collaboration capabilities.

Q: If someone is an existing Oracle WebCenter Suite customer, what does the rebrand to Oracle WebCenter mean to them for their short-term (3-9 months) deployment plans?
A: With the rebrand, we are making it easier to maximize the value of your investment by making it clearer how all our products fit together into a larger portfolio. This will also lay the grounds for tighter integrations within the products in the larger portfolio, ie much more integrated Content, and Collaboration services along with the capability to leverage a common architecture for search, mobile, application integration and other shared services across the portfolio.

Q: What does the rebrand to Oracle WebCenter mean for customers who are currently on WebLogic Portal, WebCenter Interaction, Oracle Portal or Sun Portal?
A: The rebranded Oracle WebCenter portal along with the larger portfolio provides a more compelling solution for these customers. As we have mentioned in the past, there are new releases of the existing products and Oracle has committed to extended support through 2017. This will give customers plenty of time to consider the most cost effective and productive path forward. We continue to enhance the existing products with new customer enhancements all the time. While they apply these new releases to their existing deployments, they should take advantage of some of the new Oracle WebCenter features directly. Customers can rest assured that their investment in Oracle solutions is safe.

Learn more about Oracle WebCenter portal.

Monday Jul 11, 2011

What's Next in User Engagement?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011
1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET

Please join Oracle executives in an exclusive webcast as they share what's next in user engagement. You'll hear our key executives discuss how Oracle is committed to delivering the user engagement platform to connect people and information and how Oracle will continue to deliver on and expand the most complete, open, integrated, and best-of-breed solutions to transform your organization into a social business.

Register online for What's Next in User Engagement?

Presented by:

Hasan Rizvi
Hasan Rizvi
Senior Vice President,
Oracle Fusion Middleware
and Java
Kumar Vora
Kumar Vora
Senior Vice President of Development,
Oracle
Andy MacMillan
Andy MacMillan
Vice President
of Product Management,
Oracle

Friday Jun 24, 2011

Enterprise 2.0 Conference recap

We had a great week in Boston attending the Enterprise 2.0 Conference. We learned a lot from industry thought leaders and had a chance to speak with a lot of different folks about social and collaboration technologies and trends.  Of all the conferences we attend, this one definitely has a different “feel”. It seems like the attendees are younger, they dress hipper, and there is much more livelihood all around. A few of the sessions addressed this, as the "millenials" or Generation Y, have been using Web 2.0 tools, such as Facebook and Twitter for many years now, and as they are entering the workforce they are expecting similar tools to be a part of how they accomplish their job tasks. It's important to note that it's not just Millenials that are expecting these technologies, as workers young and old alike benefit from social and collaboration tools. I’ve highlighted some of the takeaways I had, as well as a reaction from John Brunswick, who helped us in staffing the booth.

  • Giving your employees choices is empowering, but if there is no course of action or plan, it’s useless.
  • There is no such thing as collaboration without a goal.
  • In a few years, social will become a feature in the “platform”, a component of collaboration. Social will become part of the norm – just like email is expected when you start a job at a company, Social will be too.
  • 1 in 3 of your employees are using tools your company doesn't sanction (how scary is this?!)
  • 25,000 pieces of content are created every second.
  • Context is king.
  • Social tools help us navigate and manage the complexities we face with information overload.
  • We need to design products for the way people work.
  • Consumerization of the enterprise - bringing social tools like Facebook to the organization.

From John Brunswick: "The conference had solid attendance, standing as a testament to organizations making a concerted effort to understand what social tools exist to support their businesses.  Many vendors were narrowly focused and people we pleasantly surprised at the breadth of capability provided by Oracle WebCenter.  People seemed to feel that it just made sense that social technology provides the most benefit when presented in the context of key business data."

Did you attend the conference? What were some of your key takeaways?

Wednesday Jun 22, 2011

Experiencing the New Social Enterprise

Social media and networking tools, popularly known as Web 2.0 technologies, are rapidly transforming user expectations of enterprise systems. Many organizations are investing in these new tools to cultivate a modern user experience in an “Enterprise 2.0” environment that unlocks the full potential of traditional IT systems and fosters collaboration in key business processes. Here are some key points and takeaways from some of the keynotes yesterday at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference:

  • Social networks continue to forge complex connections between people, processes, and content, facilitating collaboration and the sharing of information
  • The customer of today lives inside of Facebook, on your web, or has an app for that – and they have a question – and want an answer NOW
  • Empowered employees are able to connect to colleagues, build relationships, develop expertise, self-select projects of interest to them, and expand skill sets well beyond their formal roles
  • A fundamental promise of Enterprise 2.0 is that ideas will be generated and shared by everyone across the organization, leading to increased innovation, agility, and competitive advantage

How well is your organizating delivering on these concepts? Are you able to successfully bring together people, processes and content? Are you providing the social tools your employees want and need? Are you experiencing the new social enterprise?

Monday Jun 20, 2011

Enterprise 2.0 Conference - this week!

We're excited to be at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston this week! We are looking forward to spending the next few days learning from Enterprise 2.0 thought-leaders and connecting with others who have an interest in social and collaborative technologies. If you are attending the conference, we encourage you to stop by booth #213, as we'd love to speak with you further about your challenges and success when it comes to social business transformation. New to social enterprise? Wondering what it means for your business? Take a look at how Bunny Inc. has transformed to become a social enterprise!

Friday Jun 10, 2011

Texas A&M Researchers Innovate and Engage with WebCenter

Texas A&M University System (TAMUS) is comprised of 11 Universities, 7 State Agencies and a Health Science Center. TAMUS educates nearly 115,000 students and employs almost 27,000 faculty and staff. This year they have more than $700 million in research activities that they need to manage and have been faced with challenges around collaboration and information sharing. We invite you to view this video to learn how they built Epik-Maestro with Oracle WebCenter, which has allowed researchers at Texas A&M University to spend more time innovating and less time on administration.

And here are additional details if you'd like to learn more about Texas A&M's story.

Business Challenges

Before Epik-Maestro, managing research was a time-consuming process. Most of the approval processes were done manually, which meant the researchers had to be physically present to approve the documents. That process has been streamlined by providing researchers the ability to approve documents and upload the required documents online, which has improved the efficiency several fold since their researchers are travelling most of the time. Universal Content Management (UCM) provides a better way to store documents and other unstructured data and a unified way to search documents. Also with the out-of-the-box integration with WebCenter, it was easy for Texas A&M University System to get the system up and running without the integration hassles.

Why Oracle?

TAMUS is primarily an Oracle shop and they are also using Oracle Portal extensively, so they were able to move portlets built using JSR 168 into the WebCenter Framework without having to rewrite any code or redo the work that had already been done. This was huge for them, as it saved a lot of development time and freed up development resources. Also, TAMUS plans to store research related documents like proposals, contracts and budgets in UCM and WebCenter provides an out-of-the-box integration with UCM, making it seamless to access content stored in UCM through the WebCenter interface. Similarly, wikis, blogs, announcements & discussions are also available out-of-the-box, so they were able to get the system up and running without too many integration hassles.

Solution Overview

TEES, one of the agencies of TAMUS, has a researcher portal named Epik-Maestro which was built using Oracle Portal. The researchers of TEES were using this portal to track their research and the system became very popular. So, the Chancellor and the CEOs of TAMUS approved the development and implementation of an integrated research administration to be used by all of the system members.

TAMUS was looking to build an integrated research information system that would streamline the previously time-consuming process of managing research projects across multiple institutions and empower researchers with a more dynamic and flexible user interface. They were looking for a way to simplify the research administration process to make sure the researchers have all the information they need at their finger tips. Additionally, they needed the solution to deliver a role-based view of system wide research and grants information through customizable researcher portals. Taking all these factors into consideration, Oracle WebCenter Suite seemed like the obvious choice as it provides a complete, open and integrated Enterprise 2.0 platform.

Epik-Maestro is built using Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) and Oracle WebCenter. TAMUS is actually working on a couple of projects - one externally facing and one internally facing. Within the externally facing site, external audiences can search for experts within Texas A&M University System based on the Advanced Keyword search, which allows users to find relevant experts quickly and easily when needed. Users can also read the latest research news and opportunities from Grants.gov. For their internal audiences, they have built a Researcher portal, where researchers can get information on everything related to their accounts and projects - like balances with transactional drill downs fetched from different systems thru web services and Composer components that researchers can use to personalize their home pages based on the components relevant to them. They can also use Enterprise 2.0 services like blogs and wikis within the portal, which helps to improve collaboration and communication. In the Executive portal, executives and Board of Regents can see summaries based on Researcher, Organization, Sponsor and so on and that is built using ADF Data Visualization components.

About

Oracle WebCenter is the center of engagement for business—powering exceptional experiences for customers, partners, and employees. It connects people, process, and information with the most complete portfolio of portal, Web experience management, content, imaging and collaboration technologies.

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